Size and synchronization of auditory cortex promotes musical, literacy, and attentional skills in children.

TitleSize and synchronization of auditory cortex promotes musical, literacy, and attentional skills in children.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSeither-Preisler, A, Parncutt, R, Schneider, P
JournalJ Neurosci
Date Published2014 Aug 13
KeywordsAttention, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Auditory Cortex, Child, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetoencephalography, Male, Music, Neuronal Plasticity, Organ Size, Reading

Playing a musical instrument is associated with numerous neural processes that continuously modify the human brain and may facilitate characteristic auditory skills. In a longitudinal study, we investigated the auditory and neural plasticity of musical learning in 111 young children (aged 7-9 y) as a function of the intensity of instrumental practice and musical aptitude. Because of the frequent co-occurrence of central auditory processing disorders and attentional deficits, we also tested 21 children with attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder [AD(H)D]. Magnetic resonance imaging and magnetoencephalography revealed enlarged Heschl's gyri and enhanced right-left hemispheric synchronization of the primary evoked response (P1) to harmonic complex sounds in children who spent more time practicing a musical instrument. The anatomical characteristics were positively correlated with frequency discrimination, reading, and spelling skills. Conversely, AD(H)D children showed reduced volumes of Heschl's gyri and enhanced volumes of the plana temporalia that were associated with a distinct bilateral P1 asynchrony. This may indicate a risk for central auditory processing disorders that are often associated with attentional and literacy problems. The longitudinal comparisons revealed a very high stability of auditory cortex morphology and gray matter volumes, suggesting that the combined anatomical and functional parameters are neural markers of musicality and attention deficits. Educational and clinical implications are considered.

Alternate JournalJ. Neurosci.
PubMed ID25122894